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Unspecified Psychosis

Unspecified psychosis, as the name implies, speaks to several different situations. This diagnosis is not used very often and is typically limited to certain specialists to properly diagnose This diagnosis can include psychosis due to intoxication from drugs or alcohol abuse, or a medical condition such as dementia. A further examination of these two causes/types of psychosis are detailed below, as well as information on how unspecified psychosis is differentiated from delirium and other disorders.

Substance Abuse Psychotic Disorder

A person may experience psychosis due to substance abuse – whether they are suffering from psychosis due to active us or withdrawal. The effects of an abuse-induced psychosis may or may not be permanent. If it is experienced and due to long-term substance abuse, psychosis may turn into schizophrenia. This condition may become irreversible even with sobriety.

Psychosis Due to a Medical Condition

A person who has Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia may start to have psychotic symptoms. They’re not schizophrenic. This psychosis is due to their brain physically changing and unable to compensate or adjust – an important differentiation. Ensuring that the correct diagnosis is made is important for the client and their family members – it is important for them to understand that this is a condition related to their neurological issues and not schizophrenia.

When It May Not Be Psychosis

A person who is completely normal and suddenly starts to experience psychotic symptoms should have delirium ruled out that could simply be related to an acute medical condition. In these cases, the underlying medical condition needs to be treated as the psychosis or delirium is secondary and will resolve with the disease. This is a more common scenario with the elderly – the sudden onset of dementia and psychosis. It may be caused by an underlying issue as common as a urinary tract infection (UTI) which is easily treatable and will resolve delirium. In order to rule out this confounding diagnosis, it is important to have a complete medical check-up for sudden changes in behavior or thinking.

Diagnosing an Unspecified Psychosis

Typically schizophrenia first presents in a person’s 20s. If an elderly client is experiencing psychotic symptoms for the first time, it is important to have a full medical check-up as well as an MRI to determine if the psychosis has an underlying medical cause such as dementia. This medical check-up needs to include a full family history from as many sources as possible to determine a family predisposition to mental and physical illnesses. 

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